I Went to the Mets Opener in Phillies Gear — and I Wasn’t Even Heckled

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Phillies pitcher Aaron Harang attempts a sacrifice bunt in the third inning of Monday’s Phillies-Mets game. It was successful! (Photo: Dan McQuade)

I last attended a Mets game in New York in 2006. It was an 88-degree Saturday in August. A Jon Lieber error led to three Mets runs in the sixth, giving New York a 4-3 win. Tom Glavine got the win. Billy Wagner got the save. The Phillies scored all their runs in the first-inning on a three-run Ryan Howard homer.

I wore my Phillies Randy Wolf jersey and was taunted by fans throughout the game. Quite a few fans of the Mets — who were, at the time, a dozen games up in the NL East — were heavily invested in making sure I knew they didn’t like the Phillies. I was shouted at. I learned I sucked. I was called an asshole. It was nothing major. Much of it was good-natured. But it was there.

On Monday, I went to the Mets home opener at shiny new Citi Field wearing a bright red Phillies vest and red pinstripe Philadelphia sneakers. It was a record crowd for a Mets game: 43,947. And yet I heard nary a peep. The Mets haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. The Phillies haven’t been to the postseason since 2011 — and they aren’t getting back there anytime soon, either. Phillies fans have realized this. Mets fans have some hope for this year — Monday was a huge crowd, and the game last night drew a huge TV audience — but they’re certainly not worried about the Phillies. Read more »

Phillies Host Red Sox in 2015 Opener

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We are done waiting ’till next year: It is next year. It’s Opening Day in Major League Baseball, and the Phillies start the season with a home interleague game against the Boston Red Sox. Cole Hamels starts for the Phils.

So what kind of day is it going to be? What kind of year is it going to be?

MLB.com:

The Phillies, on the other hand, have been upfront that they view this as a rebuilding season.

Club president Pat Gillick candidly said on multiple occasions that he doesn’t expect the Phillies to contend in 2015 or ’16. “I don’t think it’s in the cards. I think somewhere around 2017 or 2018,” he said.

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Is Mitch Williams Getting Screwed?

The former Phillie at home in South Jersey. Photograph by Dom Savini

The former Phillie at home in South Jersey. Photograph by Dom Savini

Mitch Williams was, until recently, known for two things — throwing a baseball and talking baseball. He’s doing the latter here in a cramped studio in Collingswood, New Jersey. It’s home to Wildfire Radio, an online station that’s hoping to attract attention with Unleashed, a baseball chat show hosted by former Phillies reliever Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. On a cold night in January, Mitch is flanked by two co-hosts and a special guest — his son, Declan. “I want people at home to know the depth of the knowledge of kids that are watching our game today,” Mitch explains, in case listeners are wondering why his 10-year-old is sitting in tonight. “It’s amazing. He amazes me on a daily basis.” Read more »

You’re Gonna Need Hard Liquor to Watch This Phillies Team

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The Phillies announced this week that they will now sell wine and hard liquor at home games this season, and not just at McFadden’s at the park. In related news, I don’t have enough column space to write the jokes flowing from that announcement.

You will need to drink early and often this season to stomach a Phillies team that could be as bad as any we’ve seen in these parts. With a lineup bereft of power and defense, and — after Cole Hamels — a pitching rotation that is feeble and the definition of journeyman-like, these Fightin’ Phils could lose as many as 100 games. Read more »

Jimmy Rollins: Out of Philadelphia, I’m Now “Free”

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins against the Chicago White Sox during a spring training baseball game at Camelback Ranch.

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins against the Chicago White Sox during a spring training baseball game at Camelback Ranch.

Last year, Jimmy Rollins passed Mike Schmidt for the most hits in Phillies history. I happened to attend the next day. Rollins led off. He popped up.

“I’ll be so happy when he’s gone,” a fan behind me yelled. “The most overrated player in Phillies history.” It’s impossible to quantify just who is the most overrated player in the long history of the Fightin Phils, but it’s probably not the man with the biggest hit in Phillies history. But there has always been a segment of the fanbase that doesn’t like Rollins. He pops up too much. (Yeah, his infield fly ball numbers are a little higher than average.)

Sometimes, he doesn’t run out grounders. Last year, Pete Rose criticized Rollins for caring about individual statistics. (Yes, Pete Rose, the man who calls himself the Hit King.) The comments on this CSN Philly piece about Rose’s comments tell the story. One fan even calls Rollins a “cancer” on the team!  Read more »

Phillies Promise to Intentionally Make Outs in 2015

Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez (16) lays down a bunt in the first inning of the spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Bright House Field.

Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez (16) lays down a bunt in the first inning of the spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Bright House Field.

Just when you thought the Philadelphia sports landscape couldn’t get any weirder, it does. Yesterday, Ryne Sandberg said the team plans to intentionally make outs in the 2015 season.

No, the Phillies aren’t working on an extreme version of the Sixers’ tanking strategy. Sandberg said the Phillies plan to play small ball this year. “That’s something that I’m stressing this spring,” Sandberg told reporters in Clearwater, Florida. “We’re working on it. We’re practicing it. If it’s not a bunt, it could be a hit and run. Get a baserunner, make something happen — really to set the tone for the season.”

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes the Phillies have six sacrifice bunts this spring — four more than any other team. Yesterday, they sac bunted twice, once with runners on first and second and no outs. They scored one run after those two sac bunt attempts. Read more »

Phillies Get a Lesson in Inclusivity at Spring Training Camp

Major League Baseball's Ambassador of Inclusion, Billy Bean.

Major League Baseball’s Ambassador of Inclusion, Billy Bean.

When former professional baseball player Billy Bean was appointed Major League Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion last July, the Phillies were among the first teams to invite the openly gay speaker to share his message of inclusivity. According to MLB.com, he showed up this afternoon to speak to members of the Phillies’ Major and Minor League teams on embracing all forms of acceptance.

“There’s a message of complete acceptance. It doesn’t mean that it’s specifically to LGBT people like myself. It’s for women. It’s for every race, every religion,” Bean said.

Bean has been invited to speak to 14 teams, but Philadelphia is the first camp where he spoke to both Major and Minor League Players. When he was finished, he played ball with teammates in the outfield, giving them a chance to answer questions in a one-on-one setting. “Today is a win for the Phillies,” Bean said. “The world didn’t stop spinning.”

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Cliff Lee Might Need Surgery — Which Could Mean the End of His Career

Among the great one-game feats by Philadelphia athletes, a few recent ones stand out. Allen Iverson‘s 48 points in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals. Keith Primeau going around the net and tying Game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals with two minutes left. Terrell Owens122 yards in the Super Bowl on one leg. Ryan Howard‘s 3-homer game against the Braves in his MVP year. Roy Halladay‘s perfect game, followed by his playoff-opening no-hitter.

But one might stand above them all. It was 2009, and Cliff Lee dominated the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series.

The game was a joke. Lee struck out four of the first seven batters. In the fourth inning, he struck out the side: Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. He struck out 10 for the game. He didn’t give up a run until the ninth inning, when the Phillies had already scored six runs. He only allowed six hits. The run he gave up was unearned. It was incredible. The Phillies, already the reigning World Series champions, had embarrassed the mighty Yankees in that first game. Cliff Lee was on the sandlot, joking around, catching a pop-up without moving off the mound to show how much he was in control. Read more »

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